Michael D. Clark reports
School Superintendent Karen Mantia is reaching out to some of those hardest hit by Lakota’s recent $10.5 million in budget cuts – students.
Mantia said during Monday evening’s Lakota school board meeting that she will invite students in May to discuss in person the sweeping changes.
“We really feel like we owe it to our students to ask them what they think their future will be,” said Mantia.
“This will be the first round of a series of engagement meetings. We will be recruiting a cross-section of about 180 students. Then we will go out to talk to the public,” she said.
Due to cuts in recent years totaling more than $25 million, thousands of Lakota students lost busing this school year and learned in more crowded classes.
The slicing of another $10.5 million next school year, including 141 teaching, classroom aides and school staffer positions – and loss of some elective classes – will mean even more changes next school year.
Lakota voters have rejected three school tax hikes in the last two years and Moody’s Investors Service might lower the district’s bond rating, school officials said.
Mantia said Lakota is one of 10 districts among Ohio’s 613 public school systems to have a top, AAA bond rating.
But Moody’s recently contacted Lakota officials after its levy losses, she said. “They particularly hone in on districts that are losing levies,” Mantia said.
“What communities do makes an impact on what interest rate we pay,” said Mantia referring to the higher interest rates the district must pay for bonds if Lakota’s rating is lowered.
Treasurer Jenni Logan said she and Mantia made a vigorous defense of the district’s financial viability with Moody’s.“We are fighting to keep that good rating and hopefully we will get some good news.”